Sims Library employed sex offender
By 11/29/2007 00:00:00
Ex-worker alleges financial mismanagement
The Ellis County Press
WAXAHACHIE - The taxpayer-funded, privately managed Sims Library employed a registered sex offender, Leeland Zane Woodard, according to a thick black notebook obtained by The Ellis County Press from a former employee at the library.
Fearing retaliation, the employee asked that his name not be used, but the notebook's contents detail receipts, change orders and employee identification information that is not made available to the public in open records requests.
The Ellis County Press submitted several open records requests seeking the same information about the employment history of Woodard, but due to the private management of the city-funded library, those detailed records are not required for disclosure under Texas' open records laws.
Woodard, however, was hired by Sims Library Assistant Director Gloria Woodard, according to a corporate organization chart obtained through the whistle-blower employee's notebook. Woodard also hired her daughter Lori for 'technical processing.'
The former employee's allegations were brought to light earlier this year, and recently, the City of Waxahachie has been in preliminary talks to take full ownership of the library, which has caused some city council members to caution the move.
City Manager Paul Stevens said there are issues to work out with that arrangement, such as taking on additional financial debt.
'The discussion about the library expansion and the potential of it being a city department is still somewhat preliminary,' Stevens said.
'I do believe that if the city is going to have a bond election for the [$8 million] expansion of the library and issue bonds if it passes, then it should certainly become a city department. I do think it would be a positive move for the library to be a city department under this scenario.
'Regarding the allegations, I have heard some of them in the past, but have no knowledge to their validity. Therefore, I have no comment on them.'
The city attorney, Steve Chapman, is the Sims Library board president, and he did not return a request for comment as of press time.
Sims Library receives, according to city budget documents, over $1 million in yearly taxpayer funds, and has an operating income of $737,930, according to City-Data.com.
The notebook of documents from Sims Library financial receipts include spending $20,000 for a schematics consultant, and $8,500 for a CD cleaning system.
Chapman also had a nephew convicted of three DWI charges employed at the library, according to the employee documents.
In one of those charges, Travis Webb was convicted on a felony charge, according to the documents.
Sims Library was willed by the late Nicholas Sims to be managed by a board of directors, which also include State Rep. Jim Pitts, and funded publicly.
It is unclear if the will left an option for Waxahachie to fully contain ownership of the library, but city officials have said the proposed $8 million expansion would be sought through the public in a referendum, possibly as early as May.